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Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 2

Double Digit (A Girl Named Digit): Annabel Monaghan

Book: Double Digit (A Girl Named Digit)
Author: Annabel Monaghan
Pages: 192
Age Range: 12 and up

Double Digit is the sequel to A Girl Named Digit (reviewed here). Double Digit finds our heroine, Digit, starting college at MIT, and planning on a long distance relationship with her 21-year-old FBI agent boyfriend, John. At MIT, math genius Digit finds a quirky, agreeable roommate, other friends who accept her for who she is, and an attractive, kindred spirit resident advisor. Really, what she finds is a place where she is finally comfortable, and where she can use her prodigious intellect for research that matters, and feel at home. Until, that is, a hacking incident gets her in hot water with the CIA, and her old nemesis, Jonas Furnis, tries to kidnap her. Various chases, deadlines, and code-breaking ensue. 

Digit is one of my favorite recent book characters. She's smart but not arrogant. Her sensitivity to patterns amounts almost to a disability (she can't stand it when things are mis-aligned or chaotic). She's introverted, but loyal to her friends and family members. She genuinely and in a non-annoying way, wants to improve the world. And she's bright enough to actually do something about it, if the people who want things from her will let her. 

There are two details that I love about Digit's first-person voice. First, periodically we'll see her inner monologue, followed by what she actually says. And often there are the same (or at least consistent). She doesn't hold back. Second, the chapter headings are hilarious. From "What could possibly go wrong?" to "Some days you're the windshield; other days you're the bug."

Digit often has keen little insights. Like this (starting with remarks from Digit's roommate, Tiki):

""...And this thing with Howard is pretty serious, maybe the real deal. I think." There was something about the way the light left her face as she said this. It was like she wasn't buying her own story." (Page 7)

And on New England trees and weather (vs. LA):

"But here it's sort of dynamic. Like every day you wake up and the weather's a little different, the light's a little different. It keeps you on your toes." (53)

Then there's her self-deprecating humor:

"What more could a girl ask for? I had an ex-boyfriend who'd been spending all his time with Malibu Barbie, a brother who was dressed in drag, a slice across my neck, and a one-way ticket into witness protection." (Page 68)

Honestly, who wouldn't want the whole context, after reading that snippet? 

So yes, Digit is a character I enjoy reading about. I hope that she has many more adventures. And I think that MIT is the perfect place for her. And yes, there is also action, danger, and high-stakes suspense in Double Digit (as in the first book). It's not exactly realistic action (though more so than the Young Bond and Anthony Horowitz novels and the like), but it's great fun. 

A note on age range for readership. Double Digit is set in college. There is a muted reference to Digit having apparently slept with John (and intending to do so again), but nothing overt. Digit and Tiki do attend a toga party, where Tiki drinks too much. But overall, despite the college setting and the 21-year-old (mostly ex)boyfriend, this is no "sexy-times New Adult" novel. The language is fine, and there ends up barely even being kissing. I think it's fine for YA readers.

Another note. Although the main character is female, and more cerebral than action-oriented, I think that the Digit series would work well for male readers, too. There is hacking, a cool robot, and code-breaking. There is a toga party. There is, in short, no reason on earth for boys to brush this off as a girl book, and I applaud the publisher's choice of a blue cover.

But I also think that the truest sweet spot for the Digit books lies with smart, math-oriented girls, who will be thrilled to embrace Digit as one of their own. I would have been so, so thrilled to run across these books when I was in high school. Heck, I'm still thrilled, despite my 25 year high school reunion having come and gone. I can't wait to see what's up for Digit next (and I know which of her two potential love interests I would like her to choose, too). 

Double Digit is highly recommended for YA or adult readers, male or female. But do read A Girl Named Digit first, for background (and more time with Digit). This one is due out next week. 

Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (@HMHBooks)
Publication Date:  January 7, 2014
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher

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© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook